This week, a group of disciples is with our partners near Ahuachapan, El Salvador. They’ll be working to build relationships, community, and homes with Habitat for Humanity.

Today we headed out for Day Two in Getsemani and divided into two teams. Our dentist and other medical professional members started the day in Casa de Salud, tending to the needs of the community with Dr. Edgar and a new dentist Dr. Elsy. The rest of the team was back at the build site ready for what we knew would be a hard, potentially blistering day of mixing and pouring concrete.

The Casa de Salud had a fruitful day. When the clinic opened at 8 AM, the shaded waiting area outside was full. Our team members giving their time in the clinic were eager to be there, and likely a little anxious thinking about how the day would unfold, probably much the same as the community members they served that day.

Dr. Cliff Smith and Dr. Elsy Cisneros, dentist extraordinaires.

First, a bit more about the new dentist. Dr. Elsy Cisneros has been supporting the community for two months after Getsemani has gone without a local dentist for more than a year. Meeting her today, she is eager to support our church’s partnership and serve the community. A new dental chair has been installed at the Casa de Salud. This chair’s features and capabilities rival equipment in the U.S. and enable our team and our partners to more effectively and efficiently meet the needs of the community. Dr. Elsy and our mission teammate Dr. Cliff Smith put the chair and associated tools to use for the first time today.

In the next room, our teammates Lindsay Griffin and Jen Bryson tended to the general medical needs of community members with Dr. Edgar. Dr. Edgar is usually in the Casa de Salud on Saturdays, using time outside of his “day job” to serve in this community. This week, Dr. Edgar is giving up vacation time to join us for three clinic days. Dr. Edgar specializes in primary care and here his patients have a wide range of medical needs. Today, patient needs ranged from malnutrition, parasites, and upper respiratory infections, to more benign wellness checks and pregnancy evaluations. One of the youngest patients, a two-month-old, presented with a high fever and was sent to the hospital for further evaluation that couldn’t be provided at the clinic.

The medical team, led by Dr. Edgar (left).

Myers Park Presbyterian Church helped establish the Casa de Salud and continues to support the work by joining our partners in service. The cost of a visit for a community member is one dollar, which can be waived when patients are unable to pay. Since being founded in 2010, the Casa de Salud’s reputation has grown and Dr. Edgar happily shared with us that the number of patients he serves has continued to grow substantially.

Back on the build site, one of our main goals while moving, mixing and pouring concrete was to not become the newest patients at Casa de Salud! The materials are heavy and the weather is hot! There was some shade around the work site and a few brief breezes during the day which we all felt were a true blessing. Working with shovels, hoes, wheelbarrows, buckets, and water, we made concrete to support the foundation of the home for the Sanchez family. Tonight, after our work had stopped for the day, we reflected on the meaning of home. Reading from the Message translation of Psalm 127 we were told: “If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks.” We believe God is with us in our efforts. This year the family we are building for has been very involved in the work to build this home, the children are looking to play and build relationships, and have helped us mix concrete despite being smaller than the shovels. In our reflection, we all agreed that a home is something we build together with God and the community with a sense of engagement and kinship as we make progress here in Getsemani.

James White and the El Salvador Mission Team